The RT-PCR lab of K.A.P. Viswanatham Medical College has received a second automated RNA extractor machine to accelerate the process of COVID-19 testing.
It has been procured through Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation (TNMSC) at a cost of ₹25 lakh. The new machine is expected to help microbiologists in handling more samples.
P. Gnanaguru, Head, Department of Microbiology, told The Hindu that the RT-PCR laboratory, which was started on March 21, 2020, had so far processed 5,19,284 samples. It had a maximum capacity of processing 3,500 samples a day. Due to surge in cases of COVID-19, the lab had been converted into a 24/7 laboratory. The number of shifts had been increased to three from two.
Sixty-five technicians were engaged in processing the samples. Most of them had been outsourced under various schemes including National Health Mission. Under the present arrangements the lab could process 5,000 samples a day.
Dr. Gnanaguru said the laboratory received samples from all primary health centres, government hospitals, urban primary health centres and other mobile collecting points. On an average, the laboratory received 4,500 to 5,000 samples for COVID-19 testing. “It is really a challenging task to process 5,000 samples a day. We are supposed to spell out the results within 24 hours. We have risen up to the occasion.”
The laboratory had six RT-PCR machines to process samples. They were not sufficient to meet their increasing numbers, but the seventh machine was expected to arrive shortly. A doctor had come forward to donate a machine worth ₹12 lakh.
Following a sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, health authorities stepped up the process of establishing more COVID care centres. As a part of the exercise, Collector S. Divyadharshini visited the Government Hospital in Srirangam and inspected the arrangements being made to treat patients.